Naughty, naughty judges

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The Court of Appeal has slated Queens­town Lakes District Council and police for “flimsy grounds” in opposing an extension-of-time bid during a liquor-licensing saga.

Last year four of Queenstown booze baron Al Spary’s companies challenged a Liquor Licensing Authority ruling backing QLDC’s 4am curfew for local bars.

High Court judge Christine French upheld the LLA ruling but later granted Spary’s companies leave to contest her decision in the Court of Appeal.

Spary’s lawyers, however, failed to file an appeal within the statutory 20 working days. When the liquor companies asked QLDC and police for an extension, they were turned down.

But in a judgement this month, three Court of Appeal justices permitted the extension because the companies’ preparation of their case was well under way.

The Appeal Court noted QLDC and police would have saved “time and resources” by not objecting and awarded costs against them.

“This Court recently signalled that costs may be awarded against parties who oppose applications on flimsy grounds …”

Russell Gray, boss of Spary’s Good Group, says the judgement is “just another example [of] where we think QLDC is showing almost flagrant disregard for spending money”.